International actors, musicians and artists have continued their calls for the immediate release of jailed Kurdish singer Nûdem Durak and all other political prisoners in a statement released on Thursday.
Highlighting their duty “as artists and authors committed to justice,” the signatories asserted that Durak’s trial was marred by irregularities and was far from fair. They highlighted the collective sentencing of Durak and a dozen others, along with the dismissal of crucial evidence, such as the confession of a “witness” who later admitted to providing false testimony. They said that her imprisonment represented the wider plight of political prisoners in Turkey.
The artists further conveyed profound unease regarding Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s re-election in May, emphasising that it symbolised an ongoing period of oppression and constraints on freedom of speech in Turkey. They drew attention to Amnesty International’s 2019 designation of Turkey as “the world’s largest prison for journalists.”
In April 2015, Nûdem Durak was sentenced to 10-and-a-half years in prison on a charge of “promoting propaganda”, for performing songs in her native Kurdish language.
In July 2016, with no additional charges or convictions, her sentence was increased to 19 years. She is currently held in Bayburt M-Type Women’s Closed Prison in the northeast of Turkey.
Among the signatories of the campaign are Academy Award nominee Mark Ruffalo, BAFTA winner Miriam Margoyles, musicians Tom Morello from Rage Against the Machine, Peter Gabriel and Brian Eno, and acclaimed film director Jim Jarmusch.
In 2022, exiled Turkish writer Aslı Erdoğan also shared a message of support for the imprisoned Kurdish singer, calling her imprisonment a “cruel and tyrannical policy of repression” by the Turkish government.
Also in 2022, rock legend and founder of Pink Floyd, Roger Waters, repeated his calls to the Turkish authorities to free Durak, sharing a song by Durak to his Twitter account after she called for solidarity.
Nearly one in three of all prisoners in Europe are in a Turkish jail, with the country currently detaining over 340,000 individuals, including tens of thousands of political prisoners.